Scientists using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN are getting closer to understanding why there is matter in the Universe. So far, they have not detected any gods, nor found any need to include them in any hypotheses.
We have long known that pairs of virtual particles arise spontaneously (that is, unpredictably and without cause) inside a quantum vacuum. These pairs always consist of matter-antimatter pairs which exist for a fraction of a second and then mutually annihilate, releasing energy.
We're reaching into the fabric of the Universe at a level we've never done before. We've kind of completed one particle's story. ... Now we're way out on the edge of a new exploration. This could be the only part of the story that's left, or we could open a whole new realm of discovery.This can be demonstrated with the Casimir Effect where a pair of uncharged metal plated placed a few micrometers apart in a vacuum can exhibit attraction or repulsion depending on their arrangement. This is explained by virtual particles spontaneously forming between the plates.
Professor Joe Incandela, University of California at Santa Barbara
Incidentally, the spontaneous generation of these particle/antiparticle pairs is an example of an uncaused event, so giving the lie to the Cosmological Argument beloved of religious apologists, that everything that begins to exists must have a cause. This is demonstrably not so with quantum events such as this - and the Big Bang was a quantum event.
But the mystery was why, if there were equal numbers of matter and antimatter particles formed in the initial instant of the Big Bang, why they didn't all annihilate one another almost instantaneously, leaving nothing behind but energy. In other words, why was there an apparent surplus of matter over antimatter when there should have been perfect symmetry.
Now scientists at CERN are beginning to unravel that conundrum. As PC Computerworld US's Sharon Gaudin reports:
CERN reported that when scientists there smashed protons together inside the underground collider, they have been able to create conditions similar to the period soon after the Big Bang. That means they have seen some anti-matter particles.
CERN said they discovered a subatomic particle, dubbed BOs, which decays unevenly into matter and anti-matter. The anti-matter part decays faster than the matter.
It is only the fourth subatomic particle known to exhibit such behavior, scientists noted.
"By studying subtle differences in the behavior of particle and antiparticles, experiments at the [Large Hadron Collider] are seeking to cast light on this dominance of matter over antimatter," CERN reported on Wednesday. "The results are based on the analysis of data collected by the experiment in 2011."
This comes close on a report last month that equipment attached to the International Space Station may have detected particles that could be the building blocks of dark matter which is thought to make up about one quarter of the Universe's mass but which is almost undetectable other than by observing the gravity its mass exerts because it is made of of particles which interact only weakly, if at all, with other particles.
Very gradually, methodically, and without fuss, science is unweaving reality and find no trace of gods or supernatural entities. In fact they have found not the slightest trace, either directly or implicitly, of a supernatural realm at all.
But then, no scientific progress was ever made by anyone who gave up looking and declared it must have been the locally popular deity which did it. Science long ago abandoned Bronze-Age guesswork and declaration of truth by fiat. The result is the modern world which can build such machines as the LHC at CERN.
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